Beware of the Patriot Act! Taking pictures of Trains is illegal!
Date: November 9, 2005 10:26
The railfan community in up in arms, and rightly so, over the recent photography ban from the Bear Mountain Bride spanning both CSX's River Line and
Metro North's Hudson Line in NY State. Last night, while taking a UPS load from NJ to Suffolk,NY on Long Island, I noticed "Photography Prohibited"
"Strictly Enforced" signs on both the George Wasington Bridge and the Throgs Neck Bridge. While I can maybe see the ban from the Throgs Neck as
there are no pedestrian walkways, both the Bear Mountain and George Washington bridges have walkways. Is this becoming something unique to the New
York City metro area or is this a nationwide trend?
Beware of the Patriot Act! I've heard a lot of negative talk about the act, but I tried to let it run off my back like water off a duck.
Now, it has really hit home, learning of the provision that won't allow a citizen to photograph railroad trains.
This has been mine and thousands of others harmless hobby for many years. If this law had been in effect in years gone by, there would ne photos of
"The Rebel," Bogalusa and the South's first streamlined train, no historic pictures of the Great Southern Lumber Co.'s railroad logging operations
or the redwood trains that came to Bogalusa.
You might not care about your right to use a camera, but you better beware of what is hidden in this act.
More Anti-Camera Absurdity
New York City is about to ban "unauthorized" use of cameras in the subways, as per this rule (170k pdf):
1050.9.c. No photograph, film or video recording shall be made or taken on or in any conveyance or facility by any person, except members of the press
holding valid press identification cards issued by the New York City Police Department or by others duly authorized in writing to engage in such
activity by the authority. All photographic activity must be conducted in accordance with the provisions of this Part.
The absurdity is pointed out by a local photographer in a story in today's NY Times. She says:
"The bizarre bureaucratic mind somehow thinks a terrorist needs to be standing there with a visible camera to figure out a place to put a bomb, when
obviously technology has reached a point where tiny little video cameras can have eyeballs peering out from your buttonhole."
And, of course, the rule makes the increasingly bogus distinction between amateurs and professionals.
To those who will now say in the comments that the NYC officials are only doing what's necessary to combat terrorism, I have a question. What about
the thousands upon thousands of subway pictures already out there? As the Times story notes, the proposed photo ban coincides with new books and
exhibitions of, yes, subway photos.
I don't doubt that some officials believe they're making life just a wee bit harder for terrorists, and therefore that the ban must somehow be
acceptable. The bureaucratic mind today is paralyzed with being the scapegoat after the next attack on our soil, which is inevitable.
There's no serious risk assessment going on here, largely because technology makes it just about impossible to stop people from taking pictures for
whatever reason. Worse, this rule is a step toward something that should worry all of us. When journalists need licenses -- when people need the
government's permission to ask the kinds of questions journalists (and concerned citizens) ask every day, the government has new kinds of power.
» This Picture is Now Illegal from tecosystems
Taking the D Train Up to the Lion's Den Originally uploaded by sogrady. Dan Gillmor is reporting that this picture - documenting my trip up to Yankee
Stadium for Game 1 of the ALCS
I've got a say about this.
We are not terrorists, we are a group, a very large group that is, that I like to see what we love. That is the 4 million pounds of steel rolling
through a neighborhood or through the countryside of this great land of ours. Almost 800,000 miles of track in this country and Canada, and it would
be very hard to impossible to enforce such a law like that! Imagine the number of people both governments would have to hire just for that reason.
Plus, a majority of the seven Class 1 railroads in the U.S. and Canada, 5 roads out of 7 of the Class 1s, travel through some of the most desolate,
dangerous, and steepest terrain in the Eastern Hemisphere.
So next time you hear one coming, grab your camera and get a picture!